Things that add up
Have you wondered why you’ve never heard of an anthology of Indian and Australian speculative fiction? Or why, if you’re Australian, you’ve never heard of so many of the Indian writers and artists whose work is in Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean?
The things that keep Australians from reading and enjoying indigenous Indian fiction and that keep Indians from discovering the work of Australian writers and artists is nothing to do with any lack of talent on the part of the creators. It’s mostly to do with market forces, with our shared history of colonisation and with British and American dominance of international distribution and their control of territorial rights. Post-colonial nations face myriad difficulties when it comes side-stepping the entrenched blocks that have kept direct conversations developing between cultures across Asia and the Southern hemisphere. But this is a long and complicated discussion that requires more than a single blog post to explain.
In an age of shrinking book sales, publishers have every right to be nervous of proposals with no precedent. Hopefully, Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean will set a small benchmark for what’s possible in regard to cross-cultural collaborations and in years to come we’ll see more and varied publishing ventures that transcends time, space, financial barriers and cultural boundaries.Suffice to say that without support from the Australia Council for the Arts,
Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean would never have gotten off the ground. Thanks to a Creative Partnerships with Asia Grant, I was able to get the ball rolling and guarantee Australian Society of Author rates to the contributors. It meant that Young Zubaan and Allen & Unwin could take a punt on a left-field project. The grant allowed the writers, editors and publishers the time needed to produce a book of integrity and quality. As worthwhile as the idea for the anthology sounded to both publishers, the logistics seemed impossible and it would have been ‘pie-in-the-sky’ without funds to kickstart the project. Independent funding was crucial.